Explore ‘The Open Sea’ at Monterey Bay Aquarium’s New Galleries

Sunday, August 28 2011 13:16   Western Travel Buzz
California's Monterey Bay Aquarium is transforming the way people see the oceans with a new perspective on the vast, virtually unexplored waters of the open sea.

The aquarium's acclaimed Outer Bay galleries have re-opened as "The Open Sea," shining light on epic migrations of ocean animals across the Pacific and the constant motion of life in the open ocean.

opensea_sunfishThe dramatically reinvented Open Sea galleries carry visitors beyond the California coast to a vast world of deep, open water. Immense swirls of schooling fishes, pulsing jellies, skilled predators such as sharks and tunas, and seasoned travelers like sea turtles and seabirds share this wild territory. In one instant the water appears empty; in another, it teems with life.

"The open sea is a dynamic place where life is in constant motion," said Senior Exhibit Developer Jaci Tomulonis. "Complex forces drive currents that, in turn, influence living conditions for ocean animals. The Open Sea galleries bring our visitors into the heart of this extraordinary environment through transformed live exhibits, new multimedia experiences and surprising artistic elements."

In different galleries, remarkable new species including tufted puffins, sandbar sharks and deep-sea jellies join aquarium favorites such as tunas, stingrays, sea turtles and the occasional great white shark to introduce visitors to life in this sweeping realm.

The "Out to Sea" gallery carries visitors into the ebb and flow of powerful currents where microscopic plankton and delicate jellies thrive. Get an up-close view of tiny phytoplankton that form the base of a food web on which everything from sharks and whales - and even people - depend.

But it's not just drifters that prosper here; some animals live fast in the open sea. In the million-gallon Open Sea exhibit visitors will meet animals that are built for speed, agility and endurance.

Tuna, mackerel, barracuda and sardines flash through the water in streaks of silvery scales. Scalloped hammerhead and sandbar sharks appear to be languid swimmers until they spring into action and turn their supple bodies on a dime. The sandbar sharks, a new species for the aquarium, are easily identified by towering dorsal fins that slice effortlessly through the water.

Joining the frenetic pace of The Open Sea are slow-moving sea turtles, pelagic stingrays and ocean sunfish (Mola mola), which have evolved their own methods of survival in this deep blue world.

Tufted puffins, striking seabirds that sport distinctive sweeping yellow plumage on their heads during breeding season, will make their aquarium debut, too.

opensea_puffinsDubbed "sea parrots" by early sailors for their stout bodies, short wings and orange or red webbed feet, these engaging birds are expert divers and spend most of their lives in the water. Their new exhibit home gives visitors the opportunity to watch them dive, preen and swim.

"The open sea is one of the few truly wild places left on the planet," said Tomulonis. "In addition to introducing visitors to the diverse species that make their homes here, The Open Sea exhibit will offer simple ways to help protect ocean animals so they're around for generations to come."

The aquarium is located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey, California and is open daily except Christmas Day. Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and aquarium information are available online at
www.montereybayaquarium.org or by calling (831) 648-4800.


Related Articles